Students speak out against outdated haircut rules

Students have criticized schools’ haircut rules by holding demonstrations, submitting online petitions and sending out tweets as schools have not changed their rules in line with the Education Ministry’s latest policy.

The students met with a representative of the Ministry of Education after their demonstration this morning. (Source: Bad Student

On 30 March, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan introduced new regulations for student haircuts to protect human dignity and to make the policy appropriate to the present day. According to the new regulations, students no longer have to keep their hair short. However, the regulations give full authority to school executive boards to determine the rules.

It sparked conversations among students that the policy still is not clear as the new regulations are vaguely written.

Some schools still have not adjusted their rules to the new regulations. The Bad Student group submitted a petition to the Parliamentary Committee on Education on 17 June with a list of 312 schools that reportedly violate the new regulations.

Bad Student has been active on the issue. A representative of the group went to various locations in Bangkok holding a sign saying “#ไม่ตัดผมเปิดเทอม” (I will not cut my hair for the new term). In another stunt, the student was tied to a chair under Siam BTS station with a pair of scissors and a sign saying “This student’s behaviour has violated school rules by having her hair longer than her ear lobes and having bangs. Ruining the identity of Thai students. Please punish this student.”

15-year-old Benjamaporn Niwad, the student in both campaigns, told The Matter that she wanted to tell society that this is actually something Thai students have to face in school. She wanted to raise the awareness of people on the rights of students.

On 3 July, Bad Student held the same demonstration in front of the Ministry of Education.

In addition to the activities of Bad Student, there are many petitions on Change.org. One of them calls on the Education Ministry to abolish all haircut regulations for Thai students, and over 24,000 people have signed it.

Other petitions demand that schools include students and parents in the process of developing the new rules at Suksanari School and demand a clearer policy from the education authorities. A petition calling for rule changes was successful at Princess Chulabhorn's College Mukdahan when the director changed the rules after the petition received over 800 names.

Students who spoke out against school policy on social media faced pressure and many attempts by their teachers to censor their opinions, including threats of prosecutions under the Computer Crime Act and of being refused enrolment.

On 30 June, Bad Student claimed to have negotiated the issue with Kowit Khuphaniat, Director of the Education Law Group. Benjamaporn from Bad Student said the group was told three things — rules that schools enforced before the new regulations were announced are void; schools must develop new rules with the participation of students; and schools must use the Ministry’s regulations during the rule development process.

Benjamaporn said in the video that Bad Student was not allowed to disclose the negotiations but the authorities failed to release an official document as promised, which left them no choice but to share it with the public. Bad Student claimed to have an audio recording of the negotiations.

On 1 July, the Education Ministry released the official document that was sent to every school. It was dated 4 June.

Bad Student also said on their Twitter account earlier today that the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education has confirmed to them that every school has to amend their student haircut regulations to match the new ministry policies, and that the Ministry will be sending a letter out to every school to remind them to do so.